The mother of a 21-month-old girl who fights against a rare form of leukemia is asking for blood stem cell donors after her daughter was given only three weeks to find a life-saving game.
Liya Gumusoz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive type of cancer that affects one in 3,100 people.
Her parents, Ufuk and Hatice Gumusoz, received the devastating news when doctors said that Liya, their first and only daughter, must undergo a bone marrow transplant by the end of July if she wants to survive.
Liya’s parents, originally from Turkey but currently living in Twickenham, noticed that something was wrong at the beginning of the year.
Liya got tired more easily, lost her appetite and had unusual bruises on her body.
It was when Liya started having difficulty walking that her parents knew something was wrong.
Speaking to the new PA agency, Ms. Gumusoz said: “It was Sunday morning, she woke up again screaming and was unable to move at all.”
After looking online for possible reasons, Mr Gumusoz read that it could be leukemia.
“I was praying it wasn’t leukemia,” said a tearful Mrs. Gumusoz. “Until then he was absolutely fine.”
Ms. Gumusoz said that she has only spent nine nights at home in the past three months, while Liya has done several tests and scans in the hospital.
Liya was transferred to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital when the pandemic took hold, which meant that only one parent could see it.
The worried couple had to face a terrible wait for news about her daughter’s condition, but their worst nightmares were made when a hematologist confirmed that Liya has leukemia.
Ms. Gumusoz said, “I couldn’t breathe, I felt like my heart had been stabbed again and again.
“I just sobbed, all I wanted to do was leave the room and go and pamper my baby.”
Liya started chemotherapy, but it’s not enough to defeat leukemia.
Due to the aggressiveness of cancer, its only chance of survival is to find a blood stem cell donor.
Only 2% of the UK population is enrolled in the blood stem cell donor registry, and the number of people enrolling as potential donors has drastically dropped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, there is no one in the register who is a genetic match close enough to Liya.
Ms. Gumusoz said: “I know it is a difficult time that we are going through all this block, but all these children need blood transfusions and they really only need basic help.
“People should donate, it’s just their blood, their stem cells, it’s a very simple procedure.
“It only takes a couple of hours to do it and you can save a person’s life.
“It could save her, she won’t survive.”